Spotlight shifts to collective contracts

As the European Commission is due today to take the first step toward approving the government’s blueprint for the economy, attention is turning toward reforming the country’s cumbersome social security system and collective labor agreements, with the head of Greek industrialists yesterday claiming the latter was hindering competitiveness. The Commission is set to approve Greece’s Stability and Growth program today before the Council of Finance Ministers (Ecofin) gives it the green light next Tuesday. However, it is expected that EU ministers will urge the government to reform the social security system as a matter of urgency, especially at a time when public finances are overstretched. Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, chairman of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), warned yesterday that changes were needed to the system of collective labor agreements currently dominating the Greek economy. He expressed concern over the negative impact that collective bargaining was having on competitiveness and employment. The General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), Greece’s largest umbrella union, issued an immediate response to Kyriakopoulos’s comments, promising «tough and confrontational» negotiations with employers in the near future so that workers could win back the extra taxes they have had to pay since Friday, when the government put a range of VAT rises into effect.

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